SAN DIEGO - One of the world's oldest medicinal plants is the artichoke. The ancient Egyptians placed great value on this thistle-like plant, and it is clearly displayed in ancient drawings involving fertility and sacrifice.
The artichoke plant was also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid. In sixteenth-century Europe, the artichoke was a favored food among royalty.
Artichoke leaves contain a number of active constituents. The choleretic (bile stimulating) action of the plant has been well documented. This choleretic effect has led to the popular use of artichoke extract in Europe for the treatment of mild dyspepsia and indigestion, particularly following a high-fat meal.
In clinical studies, artichoke extract has been found to reduce nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, and flatulence. It is also used to protect the liver and lower cholesterol.
While scientists are not certain how artichoke leaves lower cholesterol, studies suggest this may be due to an inhibition of cholesterol synthesis and/or the increased elimination of cholesterol because of the plant's choleretic action.
Artichoke Tea Directions
Draw into a teapot or kettle the best fresh water that you have available.
Heat the water just to the point of boiling. Fresh boiling water contains the most oxygen, thereby giving the fullest taste to tea. Water that has been boiling for some time looses the oxygen, and therefore the best taste. Allow full expansion during steeping. Warm the teapot and cups while the water is boiling.
A Cautionary Word
Those who have any obstruction of the bile duct (e.g., as a result of gallstones) should not employ this plant therapeutically. There have been reports of kidney failure and/or toxicity from the use of artichoke leaves. The plant's safety during pregnancy and lactation has also not been established.
Currently, there are no known drug interactions with artichokes.
Dr. Huang's comments should in no way be considered medical advice. The information provided is general in nature, and for reference only. Those experiencing health problems should consult their personal physician.
Dr. Huang is a graduate of Samra University of Oriental Medicine and is also a licensed acupuncturist of the California State Board of Medical Quality Assurance. Her practice is in San Diego. www.RitaHealing.com .